Nobuo Fujita (Jp:藤田信雄) (1911 –
September 30, 1997) was a Warrant Flying
Officer of the Imperial
Japanese Navy who flew a floatplane
from a long-range submarine
aircraft carrier, the I-25, and conducted the only
wartime aircraft-dropped bombing on the continental United States, which became known as the Lookout Air Raid. Using incendiary bomb, his mission was to start
massive forest fires in the Pacific
Northwest near the city of Brookings, Oregon with the
objective of drawing U.S. military resources away from the Pacific
The strategy was also used in the Japanese
Life and military career
Nobuo Fujita joined the Imperial Japanese Navy in 1932. He became a
pilot in 1933. He also had a younger brother who perished in the
Pearl Harbor and U.S. West Coast
on board the I-25 during the attack on Pearl Harbor, where the I-25 and three other submarines
patrolled a line 120 miles north of Oahu.
Fujita's plane, a Yokosuka E14Y
seaplane, did not function properly, and he was unable to
participate in the reconnaissance mission planned before the
After Pearl Harbor, I-25
patrolled along the West Coast of the United
with eight other submarines. They attacked U.S.
shipping before returning to their base in Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
They arrived there on January 11, 1942 to
refuel and be refurbished.
I-25's next mission was to
reconnoitre the Australian harbours of
Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart, followed by
Zealand harbours of Wellington and Auckland. On Tuesday, February 17, 1942, Nobuo Fujita
took off in the "Glen" for a reconnaissance flight over Sydney Harbour to examine the city's airbase.
By 7:30 a.m.,
he had returned to I-25
, disassembled the "Glen" and
stowed it in the water-tight hangar.
The next mission was a similar flight over Melbourne. Fujita took off from
Cape Wickham on King
Island at the western end of Bass Strait, about halfway between Victoria and Tasmania. The floatplane was launched on February 26,
1942 for its flight to Melbourne over Port Phillip Bay.
Fujita's next reconnaissance flight in Australia was over Hobart on
March 1, 1942. I-25
then headed for New Zealand, where
Fujita flew a reconnaissance flight over Wellington on March 8,
flew over Auckland on March 13, 1942, followed by Fiji on March 17,
The submarine returned to its base at Kwajalein on
March 31, 1942.
28, 1942, Fujita performed a reconnaissance of Kodiak,
Alaska in preparation for the invasion of the Aleutian
On June 21, 1942, the I-25
the U. S.
base of Fort
Stevens, near Astoria, Oregon.
Fujita was on the deck of the I-25
during the attack.
Bombing of continental United States
himself suggested the idea of a submarine-based seaplane to bomb
military targets, including ships at sea, and attacks on the U.S.
mainland, especially the strategic Panama Canal.
The idea was approved, and the mission was
given to the I-25
. Submarine aircraft carriers such as the
giant I-400 class submarines
would be developed specifically to bomb the Panama Canal.
At 6 a.m.
on Wednesday, September 9, 1942, the I-25 surfaced west of
the Oregon/California border.
The submarine launched the "Glen"
seaplane, flown by Fujita and Petty
Officer Okuda Shoji
, with a
340-pound load of two incendiary
. Fujita dropped two bombs, one on Wheeler
Ridge on Mount
Emily in Oregon.
location of the other bomb is unknown. The Wheeler Ridge
bomb started a small fire ten miles due east of Brookings, which U.S. Forest Service
able to extinguish. Rain the night before had made the forest very
damp, and the bombs were rendered essentially ineffective.
plane had been spotted by two men, Howard Gardner and Bob Larson,
at the Mount Emily fire lookout
tower in the Siskiyou National Forest.
Two other lookouts (the Chetco Point
Lookout and the Long Ridge Lookout) reported the plane, but could
not see it due to heavy fog. The plane was seen and heard by many
people, especially when Fujita flew over Brookings in both
directions. At about noon that day, Howard Gardner at the Mount
Emily Lookout reported seeing smoke. The four U.S. Forest Service
employees discovered that the fire was caused by a Japanese bomb.
Approximately 60 pounds of fragments, including the nose of the
bomb, were turned over to the U.S.
After the bombing, the I-25
came under attack by a
U.S. Army Air Forces aircraft on
patrol, forcing the submarine to dive and hide on the ocean floor
The American attacks caused only minor
damage, and Fujita flew a second bombing sortie three weeks later
on September 29, 1942. Fujita used the Cape Blanco Lighthouse as a beacon.
After 90 minutes flying east,
he dropped his bombs and reported seeing flames, but the bombing
remained unnoticed in the U.S.
The submarine torpedoed and sank the SS
and SS Larry
, and then sailed for home. On its way to Japan,
the I-25 sank the Soviet submarine
L-16, which was in transit between Dutch
Harbor, Alaska and San Francisco, California, mistaking it for an American submarine (Japan and
the USSR were not at war at the time).
attacks on Oregon in September
1942 were the only World War II aircraft bombings on the continental United
Fujita continued as an Imperial Japanese Navy pilot, mainly in
reconnaissance duties, until 1944, when he was transferred to the
training of Kamikaze
pilots. After the war he
opened a hardware store in Ibaraki Prefecture, and later worked at a company making
Fujita was invited to Brookings in 1962, after the Japanese government
was assured he would
not be tried as a war criminal
. He gave
the City of Brookings his family's 400-year-old samurai sword
in friendship. Ashamed of his actions
during the war, Fujita had intended to use the sword to commit
if he was given a hostile reception.
However the town treated him with respect and affection, although
his visit still raised some controversy.
Impressed by his welcome in the United States, Fujita invited three
female students from Brookings to Japan in 1985. During the visit of
the Brookings-Harbor High School students to Japan, Fujita received a dedicatory
letter from an aide of President Ronald
Reagan "with admiration for your kindness and
Fujita returned to Brookings in 1990, 1992, and 1995. In 1992 he
planted a tree at the bomb site as a gesture of peace. In 1995, he
moved the samurai sword from the Brookings City Hall into the new
library's display case.
He was made an honorary citizen of Brookings several days before
his death on September 30, 1997, at the age of 85. In October 1998,
his daughter, Yoriko Asakura, buried some of Fujita's ashes at the